Almost always, I feel a little burst of joy when someone agrees with me. I don’t mean in an argument or on things like politics that divide us into Agree and Disagree columns. I mean when someone agrees with me about life nuances – the things we wonder at, the ideas that fascinate, the delicious quirks.
It’s the territory where we get particular and peculiar which is probably why a lot of people keep quiet.
Luckily, sometimes not other people, either. Uninvited, unguided and without any encouragement at all, sometimes others will just say things and there goes that joy, bursting into a tiny fireworks. ‘Me, toooooo!’
All of these ‘me, too’ moments make me happy, but the rare ones are … well, rare. And precious. They depend on everyone involved being ready, willing and able. I don’t even want to think about the number of times I’ve been none of those things.
My very first time in Budapest, I had a meeting arranged with a writer. A writer was all I knew. He was aristocratic, cultivated, handsome, warm and witty. His English was impeccable. He was the head of Hungarian PEN.
I was enchanted. And scrambled. I had all the confidence of youth, but my head was in over-drive, trying to be at least okay at the task of having some kind of conversation. And then he did an extraordinarily kind thing. He began to fill in his story, all by himself.
He decided to tell me his favorite reading material. Although Hungary had been one of the Soviet satellite countries, it was a soft dictatorship and he’d been allowed to be an artist in residence in Los Angeles. He grew fond of American magazines and journals. His very favorite was American Scholar.
ME, TOO! ME, TOOOOOO!!
Our friendship started.
That was the first time I realized the power of connecting and how it needs both people. I was pretty inconsequential, but that moment still needed me. (yay.)
So, that’s what I know. To get to the rare, I’ve got to step past the niceties. The guarantees. The safe. I just have to be willing to risk it. Lots of times, people get that ‘what the hell are you talking about’ expression. Sometimes, they say: me, too.